Energy use in the United States

  • First Diesel Engine to Run on Vegetable Oil Demonstrated at World's Fair in Paris

    First Diesel Engine to Run on Vegetable Oil Demonstrated at World's Fair in Paris
    The first public demonstration of vegetable oil based diesel fuel was at the 1900 World's Fair, when the French government commissioned the Otto company to build a diesel engine to run on peanut oil. The French government was interested in vegetable oils as a domestic fuel for their African colonies. With petroleum being available and cheap, the diesel engine design was changed to match the properties of petroleum diesel fuel. The result was an engine which was fuel efficient and very powerful.
  • World's First Geothermal Power Plant Is Built in California

    World's First Geothermal Power Plant Is Built in California
    The Geysers [72 miles north of San Francisco] were discovered in the early 1800's but were an untapped energy source for many years... [In 1921] John D. Grant drilled a geothermal well and ran a small direct-current generator which was used to provide electricity for lighting The Geysers resort.
  • First Federal Law Established to Control Pollution from the Oil Industry

    First Federal Law Established to Control Pollution from the Oil Industry
    The federal government established a precedent for combating oil pollution when it passed the Oil Pollution Control Act in 1924. The contamination of water from tanker discharges and seepage problems on land were the primary problems. The former attracted the most attention largely because the polluting of waterways and coastal areas affected commercial fishermen and resort owners. The Oil Pollution Act of 1924 had inadequate enforcement provisions.
  • First Commercial Wind Turbines Sold to Generate Electricity on Remote Farms

    First Commercial Wind Turbines Sold to Generate Electricity on Remote Farms
    Marcellus and Joe Jacobs develop the first commercially available wind turbine for electricity generation. The Jacob brothers created a wind powered turbine based on the design of earlier water pump mills. The design succeeds when they replace the blades of the water pump mills with modern air plane propellers. In 1927 the Jacobs Wind Electric Company is formed. Between 1927 and 1957 the company sells over 30,000 units.
  • Hoover Dam, the World's Largest Hydroelectric Power Plant, Is Built

    Hoover Dam is completed on the Colorado River in Arizona in 1935, four years after construction began in 1931. At the time of its completion, the Hoover Dam was the largest hydroelectric producer in the world. The dam remains the largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world until 1948.
  • Petroleum Becomes Most Used Fuel in the US

    Due primarily to demand caused by the automobile, 1950 is the first year that petroleum becomes most consumed fuel in the US.
  • First Commercial Nuclear Power Plant Begins Operation in Shippingport, Pennsylvania

    The first large-scale nuclear power plant in the world began operating in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, on December 2, 1957 - exactly 15 years after Enrico Fermi demonstrated the first sustained nuclear reaction. The Duquesne Light Company of Pittsburgh built and operated the Shippingport plant on a site it owned on the Ohio River. The company also contributed to the cost of developing the government-owned reactor. Three years later, the Shippingport plant began supplying electricity to Pittsburgh
  • Santa Barbara Oil Spill Draws National Attention

    Santa Barbara Oil Spill Draws National Attention
    Neither strip mining nor air pollution riveted attention on the environmental consequences of energy exploitation like the Santa Barbara oil spill. At the time of the spill in January 1969, 925 wells had been drilled along the coastal tidelands from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. Moreover, industrial concern over oil leaks was negligible; faith in the existing technology and the drive for profit limited the incentive to protect against the worst case. It leaked 235,000 gallons of crude oil.
  • Federal Involvement in Wind Energy Development Advances Wind Energy Technology

    From the mid 1970's through the mid 1980's the United States government worked with industry to advance the technology and enable large commercial wind turbines. This effort was led by NASA at the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was an extraordinarily successful government research and development activity. With funding from the National Science Foundation and later the Department of Energy, a total of 13 experimental wind turbines.
  • Plans Announced to Build FutureGen, the Worlds First Zero Emissions Coal Power Plant

    On February 27, 2003, the President announced FutureGen as a cost-shared project between DOE and industry to create the world's first coal-fired, zero emissions electricity and hydrogen production power plant. The production of hydrogen was to support the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative to create a hydrogen economy for transportation.